CHANCE shows great promise at the Alcove Theater.

Richard Hefner as “Gregory” and Randy Roberts as “The Lady” in “Chance – A Musical Play About Love, Risk and Getting it Right”  Photo by Jay Yamada

CHANCE:  A Musical Play about Love, Risk & Getting it Right. World Premiere by Richard Isen.  New Musical Theater of San Francisco, Alcove Theater, 414 Mason Street, 5th Floor, San Francisco. 415-992-8168 or   July 5 – 28. 2013

CHANCE shows great promise at the Alcove Theater.

Chance is the second offering for the New Musical Theater of San Francisco and after a few tweaks should match the long run (140 performances) of Absolutely San Francisco that inaugurated their season. The word ‘chance’ can be a noun, adjective, verb or adverb and in this bitter-sweet musical drama titled Chance refers to all its connotations and denotation. It is unfolding at the intimate new Alcove Theater of San Francisco that combines cabaret ambiance with semi-professional staging of new musical works.

Gregory (Richard Hefner), a 55 year old introverted gay industrial psychologist in a chance meeting on the internet meets a young rent-boy named Chance (Ken Lear) and takes a chance on hooking up with him. But before that happens in the play we meet the star of the show The Lady played by the wonderful ‘female illusionist’ (don’t use the words drag queen) Randy Roberts who has been involved in the play’s workshops going back more than one year. He is pitch-perfect in the part dressed in a stunning colorful sequined floor length gown with an open bodice and side slit showing off a pair of perfect gams.

Gregory has had a life threatening cerebral event and in his mind he conjures up the lovely movie aficionado The Lady who becomes his constant companion, internal sounding board and almost spiritual advisor. The story is told in flashback embellished with music beginning with the charming “The Way of the World.” The Lady is only in Gregory’s mind and does not interact with Chance, although they do sing duets and trios. The music is provided by an excellent trio put together specifically for this show by Tammy L. Hall (on the piano) with Caleb Herring on Bass and Ruth Price on percussion.

The play is divided into 14 scenes and each scene is introduced by an Oscar Wilde line that is pertinent to the action and lyrics. Those lyrics carry the plot forward as well as having a smidgen of universality.  Isen’s book at times tends to be overly dramatic but that is ‘the way of the world’.  His characterizations of Gregory and Chance become fully rounded by the end of the play with enough back stories being introduced to make their actions plausible.

Ken Lear as “Chance”

Ken Lear is a beautiful handsome hunk and he makes Chance’s seductive come-ons irresistible and his acting skills will make you want to forgive him for transgressions he inflicts on Gregory. Randy Roberts is the star of the evening playing the part of The Lady straight without ever breaking character.

Since the Oscar Wilde lines are so pertinent to each scene, director Kalfin should consider using projections rather than have the lines read by Tammy L. Hall from the far corner of the room.  On opening night half of those lines did not reach the rear of the hall.

My advice, take a chance and obtain a ticket for Chance and give this fledging group a chance to remain successful.  Running time about 2 hours including an intermission.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

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